As she was lead away, the defeated Alpha glanced hopefully at me. I had been surprised by her request. [i]I guess it means I'll need to check up on her kid.[/i] I noted this new factoid and added to the ever growing mental pile.

My attention was drawn back to my arm when it was suddenly encased in a green glow of unicorn telekinesis and was stretched out. I saw the doctor's horn glowing brightly and look of irritation on his face. "Ouch! Watch it, doc."

He was obviously upset because he handled my arm somewhat roughly. It was as if I had personally offended him or damaged an interesting specimen.

"That's [i]Doctor [/i]to you, sir," he snapped at me. "What madness was going through your simian mind, pray tell." He continued in a cold and very controlled manner. "Do you recall the poor creature whose leg you broke?"

"You mean the one about to-" I found myself suddenly unable to speak as a fist sized blob of glue softly hit me in the mouth.

"As I was saying, the bone shard in her leg was a mere two centimeters from the external iliac artery. Had you struck little harder, she would have bled out in less than two minutes. You are very lucky, sir, not to have murdered her." He drew close, almost nose to nose, and I could smell his breath. Unlike most ponies, whose breath smelled of chlorophyll or mint, his smelled of nothing. "Do you know what you did to her." He pointed at the Alpha being led off. "Does your kind enjoy inflicting so much pain while keeping the victim conscious? I could see that blasted weapon of yours was designed to do [i]exactly[/i] that."

Despite the pain, I pulled off the strip of dried glue obstructing my mouth with my right hand and sputtered, "If you'll just let me explain-"

This time he raised his voice, "In all my time as a pony of medicine and as a military healer, I have [i]never[/i] seen such damage. The wounds were as precise as ones produced by the finest surgeon's scalpel. The damage cut muscle along the grain, flayed skin to the dermis, yet avoided major blood vessels and nerve clusters and never crushed the windpipe despite multiple blows. The damage was massive. Painful beyond words."

He paused for the briefest moment, almost in confusion. "Yet, it was all reversible with basic healing techniques, even without magic, given time. You claim your kind is weak and fragile but you have shown me just how very cruel and dangerous you can be."

He thrust his face close to mine and in a low harsh tone making sure only I could hear. "Did your emotions drive you so strongly that that grief turns you into a monster? A predator such as yourself losing his mate." he shook his head sadly, "That must have brought you such rage-"

I snarled, unable to take anymore of that sanctimonious son of a bitch, "Osti de tabarnac de calice, elle a frappé ma petite. Backhanded her like she was garbage. Would you have done anything differently?"

Despite the pain, my right hand formed into a fist, my heart started to beat faster, and I could feel my body about to give me another surge of adrenaline. I was slowly pulling my arm back, ready to teach him just how pissed off he was making me.

At the same moment he was staring hard at me, and I could actually see the side of his mouth open slightly, showing me his gritted teeth. But what happened next made that little Wilhelm Scream go from a minor cautionary warning to a full on panic that made my guts turn to ice.

The Doctor's mouth froze and he made the most gut wrenching and unnerving hiss. I could swear I saw impossibly thin sharp fangs rising out of his frozen lips, like a superimposed image. It disappeared as quickly as I was cognizant of it. If it was there it was only for the briefest of moments.

We both forgot our mutual animosity at the sound of loud cursing. We both turned to see the Alpha flanked by two Day Guard, and a third in front of her. The one in front was straining with the rope in her teeth connected to the Alpha's wrist manacles. I was impressed by the diamond dog's brute strength. She barely budged no matter how hard the earth pony guard strained. The brute spoke with humility, "Must talk healer."

Two of the guards stepped back, drawing small pies and holding them threateningly. I noticed the pies seemed to have more heft than an ordinary pie would have, but looked normal otherwise. I suspected there was more to them.

The guard pulling her by the shackles shouted, "Get moving mutt, or you'll get more than a prodding!"

The callousness with which they were treating a helpless prisoner directed my anger away from the doctor. I shouted, "Take it easy on her! And for god's sake, let her speak her mind."

The doctor glanced at me and carefully spoke, "Please, let her talk. I wish to hear what she has to say."

The ex-Alpha noded in my direction then faced the doctor. "Me speak truth, say kill him," she touched her forehead, just above her eyes with her massive finger, "from pneuma. Him ask me to surrender two times." The ex-Alpha gave an embarrassed cough. "Then, I hit his whelp. He fight with honor and show mercy to pack when he won. Few kind like that." She looked down, embarrassed, "Me never offer such things."

I smiled warily and remembered something that had stuck with me since I had heard it when I was a kid, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

She looked thoughtful and nodded at me. She then stood as tall and proud as a queen going to her execution. She inclined her head at the guard holding her manacles, "Me ready for fate, warrior."

Emerald seemed momentarily confused, as if this was the last thing he expected from me. "A lofty sentiment. I suppose I should not judge you so hastily."

[i]Alex Roberts, you hypocrite[/i], I thought angrily to myself. [i]It's not like I didn't already get my pound of flesh. Some Paladin I'm turning out to be. What would Shedinath[/i][i] say[/i][i]? I could hear her now, "If you were a proper Paladin, you'd shut your mouth and beg Bahamut's forgiveness."[/i]

In that damned familiar voice I couldn't quite place, he quietly continued, "Right. We will discuss this at length later. For now, let's have a good look at you." He pulled out a scroll, quill, and ink, and began sketching and taking notes. "Patient Alex Roberts, human. Preliminary assessment of injuries. One. Minor lacerations to lower front mandible and lower right bucca. Cosmetic damage, low priority. Two. Right manipulative appendage has suffered severe impact trauma. High priority. Three. Previous stitching of wound on inner mid-joint left foreleg compromised." He muttered, "Unsurprisingly." He then cleared his throat, "Intermediate priority. Four." His horn glowed a sickly green and my shirt was taken apart. "Teats?" He looked confused, pulled some notebooks wrapped in his glow, quickly flipped through them, then looked up. "My notes said you were male."

I answered a little more peevishly than I had intended, "Yes. I'm a male. And they're called nipples. Totally non-functional. Just fun to look at." [i]Dumbass. Some doctor this jerk is. [/i]

[i][/i]

He sniffed, "I'm afraid I don't find them attractive at all. Now, where was I? Ah, yes. Three shallow parallel cuts, indicative of a Diamond Dog strike, however there has been minimal blood loss. Intermediate priority. Five. There seems to be minor laceration on the primary left knee joint. Low priority. Now, is there anything else? Strained joints? Internal pain?"

I stretched my knee a little and winced. "My left knee is sore. Feels strained. I guess the adrenalin carried me through, though."

"Adrenalin." He spoke the word in awe. "Miss Sparkle mentioned it in her notes. At a more suitable time, I will ask you further about this remarkable substance."

"Okay…" [i]He's a doctor and he doesn't know what adrenaline is? Likely they use a different word for the same thing. Still, he should have made some kind of connection by its function.[/i]

[i][/i]

"Now, let's take a closer look at you." This time, he lifted my swollen and bruised right hand very gently with a thin ray from the tip of his horn. The ray suddenly fattened to a sickly green beam that danced over the battered and bruised skin of my hand. Wherever it touched me, the skin, muscles, bones and other tissues became translucent. While each tissue type was highlighted in its own colour, the bones remained a ghostly white.

The doctor peered closely at my hand and muttered to himself, quickly making notes. At several points he stopped and shook his head, grunted, or gave me the stink eye. When he was done with my hand, he repeated the process on my left elbow, the cuts on my side, and my left knee.

Once his notes were completed, he addressed me. "You, sir, are most fortunate. There are minor lacerations, both internal and external to the hand, the bones have minor contusions and several hairline cracks, the joints are partially torn, and the midsections of your fingers are damaged, no doubt from that blasted weapon you put to such foul use."

He continued lecturing me. "The cuts on your sides, while ragged, are mostly superficial. The knee has suffered a minor sprain, nothing a few days rest, some ice, and a compress bandage won't fix. The torn stitches will have to be replaced." He grew thoughtful for a moment. "A normal course of treatment would require approximately an hour and good night sleep. However, due to your unusual medical condition, I have been forced to use an alternate course of treatment."

I spoke cautiously, "If needles are to be used, I demand that only the thinnest foal needles. What ponies consider a needle would get you arrested for assault where I come from."

He cracked a thin little smile, "Ah, yes. Miss Sparkle related the [i]regrettable[/i] incident with a standard adult needle. Do not worry, unlike you I do not let [i]m[/i][i]y[/i] emotions get the better of me. The devices, if used, will be ones suited to your needs."

I replied sheepishly, "Well, alright then."

"First, the hairs must be removed from the skin. This will reduce discomfort in the later removal process," My arm glowed green again as I felt the hairs painlessly being plucked out, then placed in a glass vial.

I gave him a tired smirk, "Souvenir?"

With a forced nonchalance Emerald said, "Samples." Once they were secured in the vial and labeled, he quickly stored it in his saddlebag. He then spoke with a hint of pride, "Now for the healing ointment. Please lift your right manipulative appendage."

I lifted my hand and held it up to him.

He examined my hand for a moment. "A little higher."

I complied like a good little patient.

He nodded, "Good. Now don't move. This will only take a moment."

With the setting sun at its current angle, I realized I could see a hint of a darker shape through his flesh. It was almost as if his outer shape was concealing a smaller, darker body, just out of sight. Then I saw those fangs slowly push through his upper and lower lips again, but this time it was just the tips and it was only for a moment. I'm sure most ponies would have missed it. Normally, this would have caused me to scream like a little girl, but I was already exhausted from the emotional trauma I had experienced today. My only reaction was a simple, "Huh…"

His horn glowed and a beam started dancing on my hand like before, but this time, it seemed to be placing layer after layer of a warm thick green goo. I could also see that the distorted area between his mouth and my hand was being magically camouflaged. If I ignored the ray from his horn, it would seem he was vomiting the stuff.

By the time he was done, there was a semi-rigid transparent bright green shell on my hand covering down to my fingers between the top and middle knuckles, leaving only the fingertips free. I tried to wiggle my fingers.

He scowled at me. "Stop that. You need to let the casing harden properly. Failure to do that will lessen the effectiveness."

"So, is this something you created or is it a standard pony medical technique?"

He stood straight, obviously full of pride. "The Gelatinous Antimicrobial Ailment Healing Cellulose is a medical compound created entirely by myself. It is formed entirely from natural organic medicinal plants, herbal compounds, purified mineral water, spinach, all in a secret process. The unique formulation administers the perfect multi-action biochemical healing salve for magic sensitive tissue and bones."

I mumbled the name to myself then spoke aloud, "GAAHC?"

He gave me an annoyed glare, "I prefer the proper name. Gelatinous Antimicrobial Ailment Healing Cellulose."

I swear I heard the capitalization of the words. I also snorted. The colour, the transparency, and the name reminded me of some kid's toy or radioactive jello, not a medical… whatever the hell it was. I was tired, grumpy, and just wanted to get home. However, there was no point in not having just a tiny bit of fun. Dash would appreciate it. "Okay, doc, I got it. Jello Antibacterial A-something H-something Cellulite. GAAHC for short."

He spoke again, slowly, like he was talking to a slow witted child, which at this moment, he might as well have been. "Gelatinous Antimicrobial Ailment Healing Cellulose."

"Gelatinous-cube Anti-microbe…" I got tired of playing. "Look, does it really matter right now?"

"Well, you asked. If you wanted to know, at least be courteous enough to listen to the answer."

I sighed and decided I'd carried the joke far enough. "You are correct, sir. I was out of line, let's get me fixed up. I could use a bath."

"Apology accepted. Now…" He continued for about another half hour and applied the same treatment to my other injuries. All except my scraped up face. I didn't want that stuff there. As my dad joked, chicks dig scars.

"There we go my boy, all done. Now, lay here for about fifteen minutes to let the…" his voice dropped to a mumble for a moment, "Luna help me," then it came back as strong as ever, "GAAHC harden. After which you are to return to your home, climb into your bed and let your marefriend care for you. Do I make myself clear?" His glare was stern, but not mean. You could tell he really, honestly gave a damn.

I had to break eye contact. "Crystal, doctor."

He smiled and quickly collected his medical gear,"Excellent. Well, I'm off to fix more of your damage. Cheerio."

[hr]

I was about half way home and passing through a part of town I didn't usually pass through, but I wasn't actually concerned. I chuckled to myself. With all the Day Guard and Night Guard patrols around it's not like I'll be mugged or anything.

As I reached the mouth of a dark alley, I saw a disconcerting sight. There, in the middle of the small square, was a huge griffin standing off with three Day Guards.

The unicorn with a little more gold and and feathers bellowed, "Listen, pigeon, I told you to sit down and shut up."

His huge left claw started to curl up and his voice was unnaturally steady, "And I said, [i]sir[/i], why are you stopping me. I need to check on my family."

I instinctively put my hand to my knife. The handle wrapped itself around my hand. I glanced down and smirked. The brass handle material had made a beautiful and complex lattice around the green bandage and up my arm, almost to my elbow. I was ready to go.

One of the others, an earth pony, put a hoof on the griffin's chest, "We ask the questions around here, big beak."

The griffin gritted his teeth and spoke very, very, carefully, "Please. Remove your hoof from my person, [i]sir[/i]."

I didn't know who was who, but despite the fact they were being morons, I felt I [i]had [/i]to back up the guard. I started getting ready to zap the big guy, but stopped when a unicorn in Night Guard armour trotted into the plaza.

A female voice called out with an easy Canterlot accent. "Sargent! What seems to be the problem here?" As soon as the ponies saw her, they snapped to attention.

The griffin seemed a little taken aback, unsure what was going on.

The sergeant's expression became sour. "Lieutenant, ma'am. We-"

"It's pronounced [i]Left-tenent[/i], Sergeant. We keep to the old ways in the Night Guard. Now, you were saying..."

The large predator relaxed his claw and, I think, cracked a bit of a smile.

The sergeant over pronounced it, on purpose I think, "[i]Left[/i]-tenent, we caught this possible insurgent landing on the outskirts of Ponyville and running through the streets."

The officer looked at the griffin with a raised eyebrow. "I see. What evidence did you have he was aligned to the Diamond Dogs or otherwise involved in nefarious activities."

The three ponies looked at each other nervously.

The pegasus nervously started, "Well, you see, ma'am-" and was quickly silenced by a tap from the earth pony.

I could see the Lieutenant kept a calm and slightly curious expression, "Sergeant? Your trooper here was about to speak."

The sergeant glared at the pegasus, "No ma'am.. [i]Left[/i]-tenent, he's," he gestured with his hoof, "you know," he mumbled, "not a pony."

I could see the officer's disdain, "While I appreciate jockularity as much as the next mare, this is no time for jokes." She raised her voice, "Now, what evidence do you have? Do you have any? Anything?"

The Day Guard ponies hung their heads, not saying a word.

She raised her voice in incredulity. "Do you mean to tell me you detained this citizen without any evidence of any kind? Nothing? No evidence beyond his lineage?"

The three guards didn't answer.

At this point the griffin relaxed, and, I think, was becoming amused.

"Right. Corporal, you will return to the headquarters and remove yourself and your troops from duty involving the public."

"C-Corporal? But, I have 20 years of service." He hurriedly added, "Ma'am."

"I know, that's why it's Corporal and not Private." She turned to the griffin, then lowered her head. "Sir, I humbly apologize for-"

The griffin gave her a good natured grin, "Hey, don't apologize for those yahoos." The Day Guard all looked a little ticked. "I work at Garbo's Chicken, just a block from here. I use the knives...the sharp ones I make myself." He grinned. "As thanks to your treatment of an Equestrian citizen, the day guard gets to be defenestrated if they enter." He leaned in. "And I know how much you like your precious 'fenestratus.'

I don't know what the day guard were thinking he meant. It was a big word that anyone with an education knew meant being thrown out of the joint. But they probably thought he meant something else given their tails were tucked between their legs, hiding their 'colts.' I could see the Lieutenant snickering as the day guard backed away nervously.

I happily sheathed my knife, both because I [i]really[/i] didn't want to tangle with [i]anybody[/i] right now, especially a half ton of griffin, and I now had great new place to grab a bite. I stepped out of the shadows, continuing on my way home.

The two turned to see me. The lieutenant snapped to attention and gave me a crisp salute. I returned with a decidedly sloppy salute, "Carry on, sir."

The griffin asked, "What the hay is that? And what the heck happened to him?"

The office's voice spoke with quiet pride, "He is a Paladin, and he will redeem the Diamond Dogs."

I was frankly surprised at her tone of respect. She acted like I was some kind of hero or something.

The deeper voice sounded amused, "How about that." His head turned slightly as his eyes narrowed. "Took quite the beating."

The pony answered matter factly, "I believe the Alpha struck his daughter."

The reply was flat, "Did he kill it?"

Again, that pride came back, "Oh, no. But, he did made sure it learned the error of its ways."

The griffin's voice was filled with amazement, "Wait. That [i]scrawny[/i] thing beat up a Diamond Dog [i]Alpha[/i]? Suroi's Beak..."

[hr]

I finally reached home. Wanting to be sure, I quickly made my way around the house and saw the back door open, the lock damaged and the frame splintered. I was disappointed, but not totally surprised. I crept carefully to the door, but I wasn't expecting anyone. The kitchen was a mess and the refrigerator door was wide open.

All the grains and most of the vegetables and hay pucks lay scattered and trampled on the floor. The only food missing was the dried meat, fresh bacon, and the milk. While I didn't appreciate having my home ransacked, I was getting the picture that these diamond dogs were hungry and desperate. Despite my gut reaction to lash out, I was starting to feel some compassion for these poor buggers. Had they only asked, they could be bringing home food, instead they bring home news of humiliation.

I salvaged what food I could, closed the door to the best of my abilities, then headed to my much needed respite.

With all my limbs aching, I started running the water in my tub, closing the bathroom door to keep the heat in. It took me a few minutes to lower myself in, but it was well worth the trouble. I placed a hot wet washcloth over my eyes, sighed deeply, and forced myself to relax. The muscles of my back and legs were knoted, but slowly, after a few minutes in the soothing heat, they started to relax.

[hr]

I must have dozed off, because I was awoken by the sound of Dash swearing from outside the bathroom. "Luna's teats, if ever get my hooves on the dogs that wrecked his place I'll buck them to the mother-bucking stars." There was a grunt of frustration, then it sounded like she bellowed out the back door, "You guys could have picked up a little, or used the broom that's sitting right there, or something! You didn't have to stand around like a bunch of bums! I thought the Day Guard was better than this!"

A rather off put voice sulked, "But Ma'am, we were told to-"

She gave a fiery retort in typical Dash style, "I don't give Discords rosy red flanks what you were told. A little common courtesy would have told you otherwise. He single hoofedly stopped this thing and you know it! Now get out of here before I get really cheesed.

I had to admit that put a smile on my face. She was soon opening the bathroom door, closing it again quickly. I appreciated her keeping the heat in the room, especially since it messes with her feathers. I was feeling a little playful, "If you're here to pick a fight, I'm afraid I'm not taking any more beatings today. I think I can do next tuesday."

I was rewarded with a throaty chortle, "You dork."

"Oh," I chuckled, "and don't take my boss's teats in vain. She might not appreciate it."

She sounded a little sad, "Well, yeah. I was mad. They were just standing around, [i]protecting the perimeter[/i]." I felt the ripples as she ran her hoof in the water. "This is really hot, you must be part dragon."

"Well, my beloved pegasus bride to be, I do breathe fire."

She playfully splashed me, then rested her hoof on my left hand. "I'm still mad at you, you know."

"Oh, I know. But my charm and good looks will save me once again."

"And your fat head. Anyway, I'm the cool one in this relationship."

"Yes you are." I tried to change the subject, "So, how was everything at your end of town?"

"Same old, same old. Me and the girls were all over town, keeping them distracted so my amazing coltfriend could take care of the Alpha."

I remembered Twilight's condition. "Did you catch up with Twilight? She was a little… off."

Dash sighed, "Yeah, she was full on twazy for a while but something calmed her down. She was alright when I last saw her. Rarity was keeping an eye on her, just in case."

I was relieved she was as okay as she could be. "I see. Any injuries?"

She chuckled, "Only Diamond Dogs. Speaking of which, you really went to town on that Alpha."

I snorted in irritation, the unpleasant memory of the emotions flooding back, "Well, yeah. But, she did hit Scoots. I'm more bothered by the fact she made me beat her, rather than the actual beating, you know."

Dash chuckled and I felt warm lips on my own. "You did good, you knuckle head. You missed a good fight."

I scoffed, "Mine wasn't good enough?"

She gave me her throaty chortle, "Oh, you would have loved this one. Shining wanted to do a drumhead tribunal, right then and there. Nightshade jumped on him right away, going on about due process, and the rights of the accused, and junk like that. I don't think I ever saw him so mad. I wondered if he would blow a gasket."

I felt her soft chin resting on my hand. She let out a small sigh and we simply enjoyed each other's company in silence. I finally spoke softly, "I'm very sorry, you know. For leaving the library."

She answered without lifting her head, the vibrations from her voice caressing the back of my hand, "I know you are, fat head. Turns out you knew better anyway."

I raised my right hand and shifted the wash cloth. Dash's eyes were closed and she had a slight smile. She looked at peace, happy. "I was just lucky. That's all. I was lucky they weren't better organized. I was lucky they weren't just a split second faster. I was lucky… you forgave me."

"That was the easy part. I just have to remember you're a cagey rascal. Anyway, that Alpha was lucky too."

I chuckled, "How so?"

Her voice softened, and she opened her radiant eyes, "You're a kinder pony than most." She chuckled, "That, and you were the only one who has a weapon like yours."

I rubbed the top of my head with my right hand. It felt like I was rubbing my hair with a helium balloon. "True, but I wish I didn't need the damn thing anymore. I mean, until a few days ago, until I realized that damn thing and ponies are all that are keeping me alive..." I trailed off, knowing Dash already knew all this.

Dash stretched luxuriously, "Welp… I'm happy to be one of those ponies."

"You're the most important one, of course."

She sighed and I can hear the smile in her voice, "Naturally."

We continued to simply enjoy feeling each other's warmth, then Dash moaned. "Ugh. This is doing a nasty trick on my feathers. I'll be stuck preening for hours, or worse, a spa treatment. I hope you realize how much of a pain that that is."

"Maybe I can help?" I considered, "Well, next time. Once I have both arms."

She chortled ,"Alright, I guess I can let you off the hook for now." I felt the weight lift from my hand and her hot breath in my ear, "But, you'd better believe I'll count on it next time."

"On that note, I think it's time to get out of the tub. I'll be a little slow, but I hope you can guide me."

"No problem. I never leave my friends hanging."

[hr]

After getting dressed, with Dash's help, I inspected the remains of the kitchen. Someone had done a little sweeping, and I was grateful. So, I decided to, as my father would say, do the Christian thing. I quickly did an inventory of the undamaged goods. The cans and packages in the upper cupboards were not touched, the tea and coffee were plentiful, and I even found some packages of biscuits, cookies, and candies in the top of the pantry.

I stepped out the back door, seeing there were four ponies, two day guard and two night guard. The two night guard snapped to attention. The earth pony sergeant addressed me. "Paladin Roberts, sir!" I had to suppress a chuckle because his voice reminded me of the character Ernest Borgnine played in [i]All Quiet On The Western Front[/i]. I just hoped he would have a better end.

"I have some good news, ladies and gentlemen. I have coffee and tea, and have managed to scrounge up some treats. Anyway, I just wanted to know who wants coffee and who wants tea."

They gratefully answered all wanting coffee. I returned to start putting what I had together to give them a little snack. I returned to the kitchen only to see a smirking Dash.

I matched her smirk, and when the door closed, I chuckled, "What did I do now?"

"Nothing bad, you dope. It's just nice what you're doing for the guards, that's all." She started making a pot of coffee.

I leaned back into the chair and sighed. "You know what bothers me the most?"

She tapped her chin, "The way she kept smashing her face into your fist?"

I deadpanned, "Ha. Ha. Very funny. No. It's that I gave her a chance, Dash. I gave her two chances. I mean, I took her guy down so hard… Remind me I need to pay to fix the school. Anyway, I slapped him out cold. I mean, I didn't raise a sweat. And I gave her the second chance. And then, she did the dumbest thing you could do. I mean, standing in front of you is a creature that just casually dispatched one of your top lieutenants, he gives you a chance for an honourable surrender, and you go a hit its kid. After that, it's all a bit of a blur, at least until Scoots knocked some sense into me."

Dash nodded, "Yeah, Diamond Dogs aren't usually that brave… but she [i]was[/i] the Alpha." She considered the implications, "Maybe she was trying to prove something? Show her followers how tough she was?"

"Huh. You know, maybe so. I mean, she mentioned her daughter, and even said her kid was like Scoots. Suppose if Scoots was starving, what would you do? I mean, if you didn't have any choices."

Dash's expression became distant, her eyes sad. "I guess I might gather up some ponies to take the food those rich Diamond Dogs had."

"I would seriously consider doing the same thing. And if I had to slit a few throats?" I shrugged matter a factly, "Well, that would be unfortunate, but my kid has to eat. Better their kid starves than mine."

Dash winced at that statement and I kicked myself. That was a little rough, even for humans, and I know she would have found it disgusting. She shook her head, as if to push the statement out of her head, then kissed me softly. "I hope we're never in that place. And if we are, I hope you're with me. I know we could find a better way."

I returned the kiss as the coffee was done perking. With Dash's help I put the cookies and biscuits I had on one serving tray, and four mugs, spoons, and sugar cubes on the other. I held the door open for Dash as she carried the coffee out and I followed behind with the treats. One of the day guards quickly righted a small table for the trays.

"Sorry to say they cleaned me out of all my milk and cream. If you ask me, the poor buggers were just hungry."

The day guard sergeant muttered, "Whatever you say, sir. Thank you for the coffee, Element Bearer."

Dash smirked, "It was his idea."

The night guard sergeant, answered with an appreciative tone, "Dat would make sense. Real logical, like. I mean, they robbed that gryffin restaurant, left a cash register full of bits, and swiped all their meat. I think they got it all back, but them dogs could use a hygiene lesson or two," he chuckled with a bawdy wink, "know what I mean? I may not know nuthin about no meat, but I knows dirty food when I sees it."

[hr]

Once all the drink and treats had been consumed, we excused ourselves. Dash was soon tucking me into bed. "Don't get used to this, mister."

I chuckled, "I won't. So, you up for a date tomorrow?"

Dash put her head on my chest, "What did you have in mind?"

I smiled, "How does getting our little girl sound?"

I felt a tear drop on my chest as she whispered hoarsely "That would be totally awesome."